Trouble Shooting Guide to Fix Your Sewing Machine

You Can Solve Your Sewing Machine Problems

There are some problems that are very common and very easily fixed. As always having the sewing machine manual for your sewing machine is the best way to diagnose the problem with your machine but this list is designed to get you sewing as fast as possible by offering solutions to the most common sewing machine problems. Browse this list and find the problem you are experiencing to get back to sewing and having fun!

  • 01 of 07
    Sewing Machine
    Hulton Archive/Getty Images

    This is one of the most common mistakes people make with a sewing machine. Always thread a sewing machine with the presser foot up! This article guides you through threading the machine and why having the presser foot up makes a difference and how to understand the difference that is created by having the presser foot up.

  • 02 of 07

    A Bird Nest Of Tangled Thread

    A massive nest of tangled thread is usually because the sewing machine is improperly threaded. Just because the tangled mess is on the bobbin side of the stitching, don't assume it is the bobbin. Most of the time it is because the sewing machine is not threaded properly. Put the presser foot up and unthread the sewing machine entirely. Use your sewing machine manual as a guide to be sure you are guiding the thread through all of the guides it belongs going through.
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  • 03 of 07

    The most common reason for your sewing machine to skip stitches is that you are using the wrong type of needle for the fabric you are sewing. The simplest rule of thumb is that a knit fabric requires a ballpoint needle and woven fabric requires a sharp needle.... but there is more to it than that. If the machine is sewing fine and you find yourself changing the needle very frequently, you should pay attention to make sure you are allowing the machine to feed the fabric and you are not forcing...MORE the fabric through the sewing process.

    A sewing machine needle is the smallest and usually one of the least expensive parts of a sewing machine to replace, you owe it to yourself to understand Everything About Sewing Machine Needles.

  • 04 of 07

    Fabric in not Feeding Under the Needle

    Many sewing machines have a setting that lowers the feed dog. This is done for free-motion sewing, but the feed dogs are what move the fabric under the sewing machine needle. If the feed dogs are not coming up to move the fabric check for a setting that lowers the feed dog. If there is no such setting on your machine, take the throat plate off and clean out all dust, thread, and lint. Oil according to your sewing machine manual. If the feed dogs still do not work, read your sewing machine...MORE manual. When all else fails, it may be time to take the machine in for repairs.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    The Machine is Jammed and Won't Sew

    As scary as it may be, it is actually a common problem for the sewing machine to jam up and have nothing move. Your first step is to remove anything you were trying to sew. This may require gently tugging at the fabric and lifting it enough to snip at the threads that were sewing until you can get the fabric free of the machine. Now remove all the jammed thread, remove the bobbin, remove the throat plate or any other parts to remove all jammed threads and get the machine sewing again. Before you...MORE start sewing again, check your sewing machine needle. If it is even slightly bent it can cause this type of thread jam.

  • 06 of 07

    Breaking Or Shredding Thread

    If you have the thread breaking every so often or it is shredding until the machine jams, stop and take heed of a few things.

    • Is the thread getting hung up on the thread spool itself? This could be a nick in the end of the spool or a place in the spool that is made to secure the end of the thread. Changing the direction the thread is feeding off the spool can eliminate that problem.
    • Are you using old or inferior quality thread? Please have a look at ​whether there a difference in the thread. You...MORE be the judge!
    • Are you using a relatively new sewing machine needle? If the needle has sewn over pins it can have a nick in it that will play havoc with the thread causing it to break and shred. There are specialty needles that have a larger path for special threads. Know Your Sewing Machine Needles
    • If the thread continues to break after all of the above cautions, take a time out to thoroughly clean out all dust and lint from the bobbin area and the tension disks. Run your fingers over the areas the thread travels to see if you can find any kind of burr or a piece of thread that could be snagging the thread while it travels through the sewing machine.
  • 07 of 07

    Avoid Wasting Sewing Machine Needles and Damaging the Machine

    If you find your sewing machine having problems on a very regular basis, stop and look at how you are operating the machine. Are you letting the feed dogs do the work? If you are even inadvertently forcing the fabric through the machine as you are sewing, you will be bending the needle and causing your own problems.